If you’re anything like me, you probably have a love-hate relationship with your smartphone. You love it for keeping you informed, connected to the world and entertained at all times. But you also hate it for distracting you and ruining your productivity.
Well, phones are a great productivity tool, but smartphones will waste your time if you don’t use them properly. Understanding the difference between proper phone use and time-wasting can turn your smartphone from a time-waster into a productivity enhancer.
Yeah, you heard that right. Instead of killing your productivity, your smartphone can boost your productivity. And that’s what I am going to show you in this article.
7 Ways to Boost Your Productivity with Your Smartphone
Ready to turn your smartphone into a productivity powerhouse? Then let’s dive in!
Organize your apps
In much the same way that organising your environment can boost your productivity, organizing your apps can make you more productive. Having too many apps on your phone can make it hard to find what you need and clutter your screen. Also, it can tempt you to open the apps you don’t need and get distracted by them.
So how do you organize your apps?:
- Create multiple folders and categorise them based on their functions. This way, you can access the apps you need more quickly and avoid getting distracted by the ones you don’t. For example, all my bank and exchange apps are categorised under financials, and apps like Uber and Bolt are under RideShare. I also have Work and Social categories for some other apps.
- Delete or uninstall the apps you no longer use or need. This will free up space and memory on your phone and make it run faster and smoother.
- Arrange the apps on your home screen according to how often you use them. Put the most frequently used apps on the first page and the least frequently used ones on the last page. This will save you time and effort when looking for the apps you need.
Disable notifications and status updates
Notifications and status updates from various apps can interrupt your focus and tempt you to check your phone constantly. Now, let’s do some calculations.
Researchers at the University of California found that it takes an average of 23 minutes to return to a task and focus fully after a significant interruption. Five interruptions per day amounts to nearly 2.5 hours lost to distractions in a day. That’s more than 15 hours lost in a week.
It is clear that you need to eliminate distractions if you want to be productive and your smartphone can help you do that. By disabling or limiting these notifications and updates, you can reduce distractions and stay on track with your work. You can also improve your mental health and well-being by avoiding unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Here are some ways to disable or limit notifications and status updates:
- Use the do not disturb mode or silent mode to silence all notifications and calls when you need to concentrate. You can also schedule these modes to activate automatically at certain times of the day or night.
- Turn off notifications for specific apps that are not essential or relevant to your work. You can do this by going to the settings of each app or the general settings of your phone.
- Customize the notifications for each app according to your preferences. Decide if you want sound alerts, or not. (Personally, I only enable ringing when I am expecting an important call. Otherwise, my phone is always in silent mode)
Whether you need to be reminded about your tasks or about taking a break, you can use your smartphone as a timer or alarm. Most people already keep their smartphones at arm’s length anyway. Thus, setting a timer or alert on it can help improve your time management and remind you of important tasks or deadlines.
You can use the built-in timer or alarm app on your phone or download a specialized app for time management. For example, there are many apps online to use with the Pomodoro technique. However, exercise care so the alarms themselves do not become a distraction.
Here are some tips on how to use a timer or alert:
- Set a timer for each task you need to complete. This will help you focus on the task at hand, avoid distractions, estimate how long each task takes and plan your schedule accordingly.
- Set an alert for each deadline you need to meet. This will help you remember the due date, prioritize your tasks, and avoid procrastination.
- Schedule a break time so you can relax, unwind, and regain your energy. This will also help you avoid overworking and exhaustion.
I’m using headphones in the general sense to refer to all earphones, AirPods, earbuds, etc. These things have been saving lives since the 1900s 🤣. Headphones can help you block out external noise and create a more conducive environment for work. You can connect headphones to your device and listen to different types of sounds that can help you better focus or stay creative. Instead of doom-scrolling on your phone, you can listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and white noise.
If you are intentional about how you use headphones with your smartphones, you will up your productivity game in no small measure.
Be mindful of empty time
A post-lunch break, waiting for class to start, travelling to and from work – these are all moments where we turn to our phones for passive, aimless scrolling. However, if you plan for ‘empty time’, you can maximise it.
To maximise empty time, ensure you keep a list of tasks handy. When waiting, use the time to knock off some minor tasks from your list.
Schedule some phone-free time every day
Schedule phone-free work and relaxation time each day. For instance, you could leave your phone in your bag when you are with people (This has the added benefit of helping you pay attention to people and have meaningful conversations)
Another good time to avoid your phone is at night. Screen time late at night actually messes up your sleep routine. So, avoiding your phone will not just allow you to get some other thing done, it will also improve your sleep.
Temporarily Disable Your Internet Connectivity
Sometimes, all it takes to get more done is to turn off your internet connectivity. While you’ll still be able to do several things on your device, you will avoid distractions from constant notifications.
Turning Your Smartphone Into a Productivity Tool
Phones are not bad in themselves. It is how you use it that matters. Understanding the difference between proper phone use and time-wasting can turn your smartphone from a time-waster into a productivity booster.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your smartphone and start using it as a productivity tool today!